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Davao City, Philippines

NCCC MALL FIRE TRIAL: Prosecutor yet to forward charges to court for raffling

January 10, 2019 - Thursday 6:01 PM by Romeo Braceros

DAVAO CITY -- The start of the court trial of persons charged for the deadly NCCC Mall Davao fire and killed 38 workers two days before Christmas in 2017 cannot proceed yet as the City Prosecution Office has yet to forward the charges to the Regional Trial Court for raffling.

Raffling is a court process to determine which judge will handle a particular civil or criminal case.

Chief city prosecutor Nestor Ledesma explained that he has yet to forward the case to the RTC because he is still resolving the various motions filed by the persons indicted to the deadly mall fire.

"It is the right of the respondents to appeal their indictment so I need to resolve it first before I forward this case to the RTC," Ledesma told the Mirror.

He said the long holidays also contributed to the delay in the resolution of the motions filed by the respondents.

He gave assurance, however, that once all the motions are resolved he will immediately forward the charges to the RTC to begin the trial of the highly publicized criminal charges.

The local prosecution office earlier charged for violation of Republic Act 9514 or the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 at least five officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection-Davao (BFP-Davao) and one official of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

They are Senior Inspector Jeanny S. Calvario, Senior Fire Officer 4 Dioscoro M. Baja Jr., SFO 2 Joel L. Quismundo, SFO 1 Roger B. Dumag, SFO1 Leo C. Lauzon, and PEZA plan evaluator Arvin O. Tero.

Government prosecutors indicted Quizmundo, Lauzon, and Tero for violation of paragraph 4 Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code for falsification of public documents.

The CPO has also submitted recommendations to the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao on the complaints for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against 11 personalities, including former Davao City Building Official Joaquin B. Cui Jr.; Sansaluna A. Pinagayao, Darlyn Nazareno, and Nicasio G. Mamites  of PEZA-Mactan; and Supt. Carlo T. Dueñas, Calvario, Insp. Renero G. Jimenez, Baja, Quismundo, Dumag, and Lauzon.

The task force created to investigate the fire earlier found that there was malpractice in the installation of electrical wirings during the renovation at the third floor; absence of appropriate license of some workers performing electrical works; and absence of building permit during renovation.

The task force also found that the sprinkler systems at the fourth floor occupied by SSI was not functional and there was insufficient means of egress for the fourth floor.

Some existing doors had no self-closing device; some stairs were not fully enclosed; ground floor stair landing of the one exit was utilized as storage; there was failure to notify the nearest fire station when the fire alarm system and sprinkler systems were out of service for more than four hours; dry standpipes were not installed at exits; proper raceways were not provided on the electrical wirings installed at the renovated portion of the third portal; and designated fire safety inspectors failed to indicate the correct fire safety status or violations of the buildings.